In a travel market saturated by green washed volunteer opportunities provided by for-profit companies, this program is the real McCoy. MCP is a locally registred non-profit working under the auspices of the local government, and in collaboration with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Department of Natural Resources and a number of European universities. Besides volunteer fees, MCP is financially supported by the Rufford Foundation and other international trusts and charities and provides consultancy and aid to the local municipalities in coastal resource management. The staff to volunteer ratio is 1:1 or better and the work of the volunteers makes an actual difference!
Since opening in 2015 volunteers have planted thousands of mangrove trees, removed tons of plastic and other marine debris from coral reefs and beaches, conducted hundred of scientific survey dives, contributed with their findings to the publication of at least four scientific articles (more pending), helped educate thousands of school children and have through their volunteer donation enabled MCP to sponsor the salary of an additional ten full time coast guards, to donate a two story guardhouse to the coast guard and to financially aid in improving enforcement of marine sanctuaries along fourteen kilometres of especially vulnerable coastline.
Besides the work actually making a difference, volunteering with MCP also ticks all the happy boxes! It is bonfires and marshmallows, it’s diving with sea turtles, it’s meeting new friends from all over the world, it’s learning stuff about reef biology that will blow your mind, it’s learning how to dive, it’s meeting the locals, It’s petting a goat, and naming the gecko in the room. It’s seeing rare and endangered wildlife. It’s discovery, adventure and camaraderie. it’s getting sparkling white smiles from locals kids and toothless grins from their grandmothers. It’s all of this and more.
MCP is situated on the island of Negros about 50 kilometres south of Dumaguete Airport (The airport is sometimes referenced as Sibulan airport, but name confusion aside the code is DGT). Most volunteers arrive and leave via the airport, but for people traveling around the Philippines either before or after their stay with MCP the ferry terminals in Dumaguete provide convenient access to nearby Islands like Siquijor, Bohol and Cebu.
MCP accepts volunteers aged 18+. While the program is at times physically strenuous (carrying heavy gear in the sun, swimming against a current etc.) there is not a particular required fitness level (unless doing divemaster training or technical diving). We find that almost everyone is able to participate. The program is not suited to people who suffer from chronic back pains or other health issues, which would prevent physical work. As the program involves scuba diving, the volunteers are required to fill out a health questionnaire to ensure they don’t have any medical conditions which would possibly prevent them from diving. The program also requires a minimum commitment of six weeks, but many volunteer stay significantly longer.
The average volunteer in in the early or mid twenties. Most of the time, the distribution of the sexes is around 60% ladies to 40% gents. While the age average is fairly low due to the gap-year segment, as well as a number of university interns, there’s always volunteers in their thirties and usually forties also. The program is very much recommended to the slightly older customers in this age bracket too.
MCP welcomes couples, but kindly note that accommodation is shared dorms. Typically there is a boys dorm, a ladies dorm and two mixed and/or couples dorms.
Read more about the volunteering at the webpage of Marine Conservation Philippines or apply directly below.
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